Charlie Blackmon is a tough interview.
Sure, he’s smart, thoughtful, articulate, expressive and self-deprecating. He’s a treasure trove of baseball knowledge. He’s fun to talk to.
He’s just so darn hard to find.
Before games, Blackmon studies videos of opposing pitchers and then gets his body stretched, massaged, buffed and rolled. After games, he lifts weights and eats his postgame meal. Deadlines for filing a story usually don’t give me an opportunity to wait him out to discuss a key hit or a memorable moment.
This season, Blackmon’s career milestones are coming at a rapid pace. On Wednesday, the outfielder reached 10 years of major-league service time. That’s a really big deal. Fewer than 10% of major league players reach that milestone. And consider this: the average career lasts about 3.75 seasons, and 60% of the players never reach salary arbitration, which in most cases takes three full years.
Blackmon is not the kind of man who pats himself on the back, but he’s extremely proud of his 10 years of service time. I discovered that via a text, which I’ve found over the years is often the best way for me to reach “Chuck Nazty.”
“Playing even 1 day in the big leagues is so special,” he texted. “I can’t believe I made 10 years of service, and to do it with one team makes it that much better!”
The only other Rockies player to achieve that milestone with the Rockies is Todd Helton.
Friday night at Coors Field, Blackmon smashed an RBI triple to right-center field in the first inning. It was the 54th triple of his career, moving him past Dexter Fowler for the most triples in franchise history. It was a prototypical Blackmon moment — arms and legs churning, maximum effort, and a hard slide into third base.
Last year, on the eve of the Rockies’ season-opener, I wrote:
“Charlie Blackmon’s furry face might one day grace the Rockies’ Mount Rushmore, joining the likes of Todd Helton and Larry Walker.
“Walker is already in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Helton might join him someday. And although Blackmon’s statistics, solid as they are, won’t get him to Cooperstown, his work ethic, the standards he’s set for his teammates, and his pride in wearing the color purple make him a Rockies’ icon.”
Former Rockies shortstop Trevor Story once told me, “I’ve called Chuck ‘The Rock’ for a long time now. I think he embraces that.”
Blackmon turns 36 on July 1 but his recent play reminds us that he still has plenty to give. Friday was Blackmon’s third straight multi-hit game and he’s hitting .329/.365/.543 in June. He’s on pace to hit 22 home runs.
The right fielder has a $10 million player option for 2023 (with incentives), and all indications are that he’ll pick up the option and return. After that, Blackmon might hang up his jersey and go fishing, or hunting, or spelunking, or whatever it is that Blackmon does in the offseason.
Who knows, he might even shave his beard.
But one thing is certain, the Rockies want Blackmon’s presence and the tone he sets for the entire team.
Blackmon once told me this about DJ LeMahieu, his close friend and former teammate who’s now chasing a World Series title with the Yankees:
“He does everything right. Whenever I have doubts about what I should be doing, I look to DJ. DJ is my litmus test. If I’m doing what DJ is doing, I’m doing the right thing.
“There is a lot to be said for someone who goes out there with the right attitude every day. The same mentality — always locked in. He doesn’t cash in a whole week if he’s not feeling it.”
Blackmon’s teammates say the same things about him.
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